Taking Leave Of Destiny

By FalconWing

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It was an average Saturday evening at Hogwarts and the now authorized DA group – officially standing for Defense Assistance, Fudge being just as paranoid now as he was last year – was having the first meeting of the year in the Room of Requirement for registration.

Sixth years Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were looking rather overwhelmed by the response to the leaflets that had been posted in each house's common room. Now that Voldemort's return was public, it seemed that students of all ages and backgrounds were eager for more experience, despite this year's new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor seeming half-decent.

Indeed, it appeared that Slytherin was the only house that had no one attending.

'Appeared' being the operative word.

In a shadowy alcove near the rear of the room, hidden by a recently acquired invisibility cloak, a figure stood as though frozen, listening intently to the Boy-Who-Lived as he outlined the year plan.

"Going by the number of you present today, we will probably have to split you into three groups – by year would be the best and then we can practice at your level. Those of a younger age will mostly do basic shield spells and stage some simple mock duels. Those who were in the group last year will end up doing some revision, but for everyone else we'll do some patronuses, more complex shields and some minor offensive moves. Just enough to catch any Death Eaters off guard and give you a chance to fight back. I think that's about it. We'll arrange to notify you of the time of your meeting. Now, any questions?"

Silence.

"Okay then, I think that clears everything up. We'll see you when we see you." That seemed to signal the end to their meeting and the masses began to file out the door, leaving behind the three at the front of the room and the one standing at the back.

"I think that went quite well," began the girl. "Certainly a lot more people than we expected. But that's certainly not a bad thing. I would have thought someone would have had a question, though. Maybe-"

"I have a question."

The slow drawl rang out loudly and the trio turned to where it came from. The figure at the back moved then, starting towards the front and sliding off the cloak as he walked.

Draco Malfoy, Slytherin Prefect and the son of a Death Eater, swaggered arrogantly up to the front of the room, smirking at the expression on the great Harry Potter's face, and those of his two sidekicks, Weasley and Granger.

"I have a question," he repeated, as their shocked expressions turned to ones of extreme dislike. "What happens when these Death Eaters have recovered from their supposed astonishment and any advantage of surprise is lost?" Reaching the front of the room, he leaned insolently against the wall, smirk undiminished, though his grey eyes were serious as they swept the room, where everyone had been standing moments earlier. "What happens when these Death Eaters start doing what they do best – spells like the Cruciatus, Imperious, Killing Curse and various other spells you haven't even heard of… spells that no shield, no matter how strong, will stop?"

Potter, Granger and Weasley exchanged glances, no doubt wondering what in Merlin's name he was up to.

It was Granger who stepped forward to answer him coolly, though with a glare would have had him cowering in fear had he been anyone else. "Malfoy, there's nothing even fully fledged Aurors could do about those, save try to dodge them, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do what we can. If you're only here to try to intimidate us, then I suggest you leave."

"Now that's where you're wrong," he replied smoothly, ignoring her last comment. "Granted, there is nothing you can do to counter or even stop such a curse, but there are always tactics one can use – a state of mind, if you will – that can somewhat reduce the effects of nearly all of them, excluding the Killing Curse of course. It may not be much, but it can make the pain slightly less, the mind slightly more able to function correctly, uninfluenced by the curse."

Weasley snorted doubtfully and Granger simply looked highly skeptical, but Potter cocked his head to the side with a thoughtful expression in his green eyes and when he spoke it was with a quiet voice. "How do you know that whoever supposedly discovered this is not lying?"

Draco stiffened almost imperceptibly and his eyes darkened faintly, but his reply when it came matched Potter's for volume and equanimity.

"I've never really seen the point in lying to myself, Potter." A small shrug, meant to come across as casual, only appeared forced, as did the attempt at the matching sneer. "And besides, I've heard denial is considered unhealthy."

To their credit, the Golden Trio did a good job of hiding their shock at this statement, but he couldn't help but notice the expression of horror that was just visible in Granger's eyes and resisted the urge to shuffle uneasily at it. Damn it, why had he said that?

"But that's beside the point," he continued gruffly – after all, he hadn't come here to discuss his personal life with three people who, of all those in the world that hated him with a passion, were probably at least in the top five. "The point is that the DA is supposed to be somewhere you learn spells that will save your life, not the same old things we're taught in Defense Against the Darks Arts, is it not? Else what's the use?

"We can practice things learnt in class to our heart's content without bothering to step out of our dorms. So should not the DA be a place where we build upon those skills instead of going over them countless times unnecessarily?"

"'We'?"

Damn. Somewhere in that spiel he had unconsciously begun speaking about himself and the DA inclusively and Granger unfortunately hadn't missed it. But much as he sometimes hated the name and all that came along with it, he was a Malfoy and Malfoys did not show discomfort, let alone let it slip that they had said something they had not intended to be known.

So rather than stutter unintelligible comments about how he had meant to refer to the DA as being a place where you build upon skills, etc, he repaired his trademark smirk and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Yes, Granger – 'we'. From the way you're going you look as though you need someone in the know to give you a heads-up every now and then. I mean, you didn't really expect me to sit by and watch all these youngsters take on Voldemort and his followers with absolutely no way of defending themselves other than a few measly shield spells, did you?"

Of course, he knew that they expected nothing less and their faces more than proved it. The look on Weasley's face was priceless and Granger's was a close runner-up. Potter had made a credible attempt to mask his expression but his eyes gave him away, along with the undisguised layer of mistrust and utter dislike evident in his voice when he spoke.

"No. You would be far more likely to be among Voldemort's followers and be attacking them yourself."

That was all it took. He tensed suddenly, face darkening into a menacing scowl as he pushed himself away from the wall. Gone was the haughty and hate-inspiring swagger of a spiteful boy; in its place was the threatening stalk of a furious young man… this was a Draco Malfoy to be feared. Gone also was the carefully maintained semblance of calm he had upheld since revealing himself.

It only took a few strides to reach Potter and before the trio had even so much time to blink, he had grabbed the other boy by the collar of his shirt and had lifted him nearly clean off the floor, so that they were facing each other dead on. Green eyes showed nothing but a sudden surprise, but the silver eyes facing them glittered with rage.

"Don't you dare to presume about that which you know nothing about." His voice was smooth as liquid poison and more dangerous still. "You know nothing about me, nothing about my motives and you most certainly know nothing about my intentions."

Then, before anyone had time to react, he deposited Potter back onto his own feet just as abruptly as he had raised him off them. He turned sharply, making his way back to the wall, mentally cursing to himself. Here he was deriding them for wearing their hearts on their sleeves, emotions on their faces and then he goes and loses all self control in the face of one simple insult.

And it wasn't even as though he shouldn't have been expecting it. He knew what everyone thought, he saw the sidelong glances, heard the whispered comments. There was just something about hearing someone say it to your face, bold as brass and with utter conviction that drove it home. The Golden Trio, his own family, the entire school – hell, the entire magical world – were all fully expecting him to join Voldemort and jump for joy as he went merrily about tearing people's lives – not to mention bodies – apart.

Perhaps the worst part of it all was that he knew that just over two years ago he was fully expecting the very same thing himself… and looking forward to it. The very thought made him feel sick.

But he hadn't spent the past two years pretending to be the evil, nasty bastard he had been for the first fourteen years of his life for nothing (although on second thought he was still a nasty bastard, just not an evil one). In the few moments it took him to reach the wall, he had composed himself and by the time he turned around again, his features had rearranged themselves into the expression he had dubbed 'cold and aloof', with his chin resuming its arrogant tilt, grey eyes appropriately calculating.

"Believe what you will," he stated, calmly contradicting his earlier words. "Just don't be moronic enough to think your beliefs founded and don't be surprised when those same beliefs turn out to be false."

Weasley and Granger had firm grips on their wands, Weasley's face having turned as red as his face with anger and Granger had puffed up like an angry cat. Both were fixing him with a murderous glare, but then he was more than accustomed to this by now. What made more uneasy was the reason they were holding back from cursing him into oblivion.

Potter had barely moved a muscle from where he had been dropped, save stepping back to regain his balance. For the second time in one night Draco was the recipient of a strangely considering and thoughtful scrutiny, a far cry from the hate and distrust he was expecting and even hoping for.

This was just great. He had been hoping that some good would come of this. He had taken an enormous risk in showing his hand so publicly and now it looked as though nothing would come of it. Well, that, or Potter would identify the reasons behind his change of heart and he certainly did not want him and his cronies knowing all about his personal life.

Cursing himself for his foolishness, he paused as he turned to leave. "You might want to tell Dumbledore that there's going to be an attack on the neighborhood where your aunt and uncle live tomorrow, though I'd rather you not tell him who told you. Eleven thirty at night it's going to be, I believe. Thirty Death Eaters at least."

Four steps before the door there was a "Malfoy?" and he turned back around to face Potter, eyebrow raised. "Why?"

"'Why' what, Potter?"

"You know what I mean. Why are you here? Why are you attempting to help us of all things?"

He looked flustered but Draco just shrugged nonchalantly. "Don't know."

"Of course you have to know! I mean, you're Draco Malfoy – practically a Death Eater from birth. You certainly behaved it. You don't just go and give out information to the enemy without a reason. So, why?"

There was no response. Sliding the invisibility cloak back over his shoulders, he had pushed the door open and left, even before Potter had finished speaking.

- - - - -

At breakfast, two days later, Hogwarts was buzzing with news of an attack. Approximately thirty five Death Eaters had launched an assault a street called Privet Drive, in Surrey, and the surrounding roads. However somehow the authorities had gotten wind of the top secret plot and a large group of Aurors had managed to thwart them. There were only a few minor injuries, all treated and all memories wiped.

Turning the page of the Daily Prophet, Harry felt someone's eyes on him and looked up. Draco Malfoy stared back at him from the other side of the room and then, with a curl of his lip, nodded in acknowledgement. Harry gave him a nod in return and then the Slytherin turned and started a conversation with the boy to his right.

The rest of the day went as normal, despite the morning's news. Malfoy sneered at Harry in Transfiguration and laughed at Neville in Potions. In Care Of Magical Creatures he mocked Hermione, scoffed at Hagrid and made Ron turn bright red in fury at his never-ending round of insults.

By that night, as the three of them sat alone in the common room, Ron was trying to convince them that they had all been hallucinating and that Malfoy had never really even been at the DA meeting.

"Come on guys. We had to have been imagining it. This is Malfoy we're talking about. Malfoy the evil git. Malfoy the Junior Death Eater. We didn't see him at all yesterday, but you heard him today. He was insulting your parents, my parents and calling Hermione a you-know-what. And I knew the pumpkin juice tasted strange on Saturday!"

"Oh Ron," started Hermione. "As much as I'm inclined to agree that Malfoy couldn't possibly have sold out the Death Eaters, the fact remains that if it was a figment of all of our imaginations then how did our imaginations know where the attack was going to be and where? No, it really was him, but I agree with Harry. I want to know why."

Ron was very obviously struggling to come up with a way to get around the point that Hermione had brought up, but was saved from having to answer as a large, black eagle owl swooped in through the open window, deposited a piece of paper on the table in front of them and then flew out again.

It was Harry who picked it up and scanned the note, before looking back up at his friends' curious faces.

"Well, Hermione," he stated. "It looks like we have our answer."

There in a single, neatly written sentence it said:

Because I control my own destiny and somewhere, somehow, I started to care.

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Hey guys, thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this and please review! I'm begging you. I would really like to know what you thought of it, and if you have any concrit, I'd loveto hear it.

I have been working on another Draco-centric 'fic, probably one or two parts, but that won't get up until after the release of the Half-Blood Prince. It is going to be set in 7th year, so let's just hope that it isn't made impossible but this book, eh? It will be quick a dark 'fic, but I hope you keep a look out for it, read it and like it.

Love y'all...

FalconWing.